2008 Distinguished Service  Award Winners

 
Chief Justice's Outstanding Contribution to the Courts Award
Susan Edwards

Arizona Judicial Council Member
 

Susan Edwards
     Susan Edwards has served eight years as a public member of the Arizona Judicial Council (AJC); the council that develops and implements policies and procedures that improve the administration of justice in courts statewide.  Ms. Edwards is widely known as a "Voice of the Masses," working to keep the needs of the average person abreast as important decisions are discussed and made.  She also has devoted numerous hours to other judicial volunteer efforts, including:                  
                    -  Maricopa County Bar Association Judicial Salary Committee (1989-1993)
                    -  Chair of the Maricopa County Citizens' Judicial Advisory Council (1990-1991)
                    -  Arizona Supreme Court Commission on the Courts (1988-1989)    

     Ms. Edwards began her career in financial planning and wealth management with Morgan Stanley in 1977, and in 1985 became the first woman in Arizona to earn the title of Vice President with Morgan Stanley - a title she still holds. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and very active in her community, Ms. Edwards
 was the founding chair of the Friends of Public Radio Arizona and is on its board.  She also serves as a member of the Finance Department Advisory Board of the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

 

Improving Public Trust and Confidence
The Honorable Fred Newton, Judge
Superior Court in Coconino County
 
The Honorable Fred Newton and Family
      After 6 years of hard work, dedication, and faithful service to the Coconino County Superior Court, Judge Newton stepped down as the Presiding Judge of the Coconino County Superior Court and the Coconino County Conciliation Court on April 30. 2008.
     Judge Newton's judicial system activities are remarkable.  He served on many statewide committees including:
               -  Superior Court Committee (Chair);
               -  Arizona Judicial Council;
               -  Presiding Judges Association;
               -  Arizona Judicial College Board; and
               -  Family Court Committee
     Judge Newton also helped in the creation of the specialized courts within Coconino County:
               -  DUI/Drug Court; and
               -  Integrated Family Court
     Prior to being appointed as a Superior Court Judge in October of 1993, Judge Newton served as Chief Deputy County Attorney in Coconino County. He was selected "Prosecutor of the Year" for the State of Arizona, and "Big Brother of the Year" in Coconino County for his community service work. 
     Judge Newton also practiced law as a Deputy County Attorney in Maricopa County, an Assistant Phoenix City Prosecutor, a Public Defender, and in private practice.  Judge Newton graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1976, and Arizona State University in 1972.

 

Administration of Justice Award
The Honorable Jerry G. Landau
Arizona Supreme Court
 

The Honorable Jerry Landau

    
 
Jerry G. Landau, Esq., a practicing attorney for 31 years, is the Director of Government Affairs for the Arizona Supreme Court.  Mr. Landau has spent his career dedicated to improving the justice system. He is the chief legislative liaison for the Judicial Branch and interacts with other government agencies and the private sector, while supervising the Administrative Office of the Courts legislative group.
     Mr. Landau served as chair of the DUI Case Processing Committee established by Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor in 2005.  He previously served on a number of Supreme Court committees, including Speedy Trial, Disclosure, Juvenile Rules, Civil Traffic, Video Conferencing and Change of Judge.
     Mr. Landau has also served on a number of Arizona state legislative committees including the Legislative Criminal Code Sentencing Commission.  He continues to play an integral part in writing many of Arizona's criminal, victim rights, juvenile and DUI laws.
     In addition, he sits as a Judge Pro-Tempore in Maricopa County Superior Court, Graham County Superior Court, Maricopa Justice of the Peace courts and the City of Mesa Municipal Court.  He previously served 24 years with Maricopa County Attorney's Office and four years in private practice. 
     Mr. Landau is a nationally known expert in the prosecution of DUI and Vehicle Homicide cases.  He authored a chapter for two editions of the book Medical-Legal Aspects of Alcohol, and written articles on DUI law for the Arizona State Bar Journal, the Maricopa County Lawyer and is currently working on a chapter for another book on DUI. 
     In his spare time, he is President of Har Zion Congregation and sits on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.
 

 

 

Providing Access to Swift, Fair Justice

"A Commitment to Quality"
Superior Court in Gila County
 

A Committment to Quality
     In 2006, the Superior Court in Gila County started an effort to increase the quality of justice services provided to families and children - an effort known as "Commitment to Quality."  The court involved a variety of community stakeholders to collaboratively look at how cases are handled, to improve outcomes for families and children.
     Members of the county attorney's office, defense counsel, chief of police, superintendent of county schools, and others have joined with the superior court to improve access to swift, fair justice in helping families.
     Initially the Dependency Group focused on improving court procedures.  For example, minute entries and forms were redesigned, the Clerk of the Court changed processes, and the mediator's role in court was changed during preliminary proceedings.  Because of these and other efforts, the time it takes for a case to go through the system - initial hearing to disposition - has decreased from averaging more than 180 days in 2006 to averaging 60 days in April 2008.
      The group is now able to focus on improving outcomes for children and families by implementing the "Best for Babies" and "Terrific Teens" educational programs with the goal of increasing the Court's awareness of the special needs of these groups.
     In addition, the time it takes delinquency cases form initial hearing to disposition has been reduced too, thanks to the cooperation of stakeholders and modifications based on the "Model Court" concept.
     Ms. Leslie S. Turner, Unit Chief for the Attorney General's Office, said this about the process, "Gila County has been introspective in its approach, amenable to change, and proactive in seeking modifications to daily procedures."

 

 

Providing Access to Swift, Fair Justice
2008 Honorable Mention Award Winner
Pre-Booking and Initial Appearance System - Superior Court in Maricopa County

 


     The Pre-Booking and Initial Appearance System automates and exchanges data within Maricopa County and has increased efficiency, accuracy, and consistency when arresting a person, checking that person into jail, and preparing court documents.
     The solution replaced outdated procedures that involved a series of inefficient business processes that had a huge potential for human error and resulted in decreased officer availability, inaccurate date, delays in the justice process and longer jail times - all items have improved substantially since implementation.  Some of the benefits of the new paradigm include:
               -
  Maricopa County citizens are kept safer as officers can spend more time out in the field instead of checking a person into jail.
              
-  Justice and law enforcement staff can now have accurate and consistent data system that uses automated efficiencies.
               -  Law enforcement officers can complete an automated arrest report from a variety of locations and submitted electronically instead of completing handwritten forms.
                -  Probation officers are able to save time through the automation process.
     This automated solution was derived through the successful collaboration of business and technology leaders in the justice and law enforcement agencies including the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJIS), and Court Technology Services (CTS).

 
 

Protecting Children, Families and Communities

Pinal County Community Advisory Board Leads by Example  
 

Pinal County Community Advisory Board    

     Citizen volunteers from diverse professional, cultural and community backgrounds comprise the Pinal County Community Advisory Board (CAB) that evaluates and enhances services provided by Juvenile Court Services.  The CAB was instrumental in creating community partnerships which provide creative contributions through a number of projects that help probationers and juveniles detained in the Youth Justice Center, and other Pinal County youth.  Three of these projects are listed below:
               -
  Probation Works! Incentive Program: The CAB worked with probation staff to reward probationers for good behavior.  The program teaches responsibility, and probation officers have reported that the program helps motivate juveniles toward productive behavior, and to develop and achieve their goals.
               -  Character Counts Essay Contest: Pinal County youth in grades K-12 were asked to write about one of the "six pillars of character."  CAB members evaluate these entries and participants are awarded at a ceremony that involves judges, juvenile court services, and the student's teachers and parents.
               -  Youth Justice Center (YJC) Activities: The CAB has helped bring new opportunities to the YJC.  They created a partnership with the YMCA to received $17,000 worth of exercise equipment for juveniles to participate in the "Health Mind" Program.  In addition more than 1,000 books were collected in a book drive, allowing juveniles access to reading materials.  The CAB has also brought a photography/art and music programs for detainees to have the opportunity for other forms of creative outlets.
     The work of the CAB has created opportunities for youth throughout Pinal County, including probationers and juvenile detainees, to become involved in their communities and motivate juveniles to make positive and permanent change in their lives.

 
 
Protecting Children, Families and Communities
2008 Honorable Mention Award Winner
Life Skills, Enrichment, and Academic Program (LEAP) - Superior Court in Yavapai County

 


     The Life Skills, Enrichment, and Academic Program (LEAP) is a day reporting center for teenagers who have been placed on either standard probation or Juvenile Intensive Probation Supervision (JIPS).  LEAP is designed to give the Court a constructive accountability alternative to detention while giving adjudicated, low-risk-teenagers positive, counseling, tutoring, and life skills during after school hours when they would likely be unsupervised.
     LEAP has served more than 200 youth since beginning in July 2007 with programs available in many areas including teen pregnancy prevention, substance abuse, anger management, current events, community service, literacy classes, and decision-making.
     Centers are open in Prescott and Cottonwood, and transportation is provided to youth to help serve youth who live in outlying areas of Yavapai County.  The success of LEAP is a result of a strong collaboration between Juvenile Court, the Prescott Salvation Army, and numerous other providers.

 
 

Being Accountable
Domestic Violence Court - Pima County Consolidated Justice Court

 
Pima County Domestic Violence Court
         In March 2007, the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court (PCCJC) implemented a Domestic Violence (DV) Court.  This program is a coordinated effort between the Justice Court, Pima County Sheriff's Department DV Unit, Pima County Attorney's Office Misdemeanor Unit and Victim Witness Program, and the Adult Probation Department.
     Prior the implementation of this specialty court, DV cases arising from arrests by the Pima County Sheriff's Department were not processed in a consistent manner.  In one year's time, under the direction of the Honorable Jack Peyton, the Court has made many changes.  Now all DV cases are funneled through the specialized court at arraignment  The prosecutor and judge now have easier access to the defendant's detailed criminal history to make a more informed decision about the case.  Cases are also being processed consistently within 90 days from arraignment, ensuring swift justice and judicial efficiency.
     Third year law students from the University of Arizona's Domestic Violence Law Clinic also help prepare DV victims to testify in court, particularly regarding contested Orders of Protection.  The Court also provides all persons applying for an Order of Protection with information on crisis intervention, safety planning and victim services as well as an opportunity to meet with the DV court advocate.  In surveys, victims reported satisfaction with the handling of their cases in all facets, and those who had past experience with the criminal justice system reported increased satisfaction of the handling of their case in DV court.
 
 
Being Accountable
2008 Honorable Mention Award Winner
CourTools - Phoenix Municipal Court
 
     Phoenix Municipal Court is one of the first courts in Arizona to have successfully implemented all ten CourTools performance measures, consistent with the rigorous methodology and definitions employed by the National Center for State Courts.
     In 2006, the Court began the substantial two year effort to implement all measures, and each month the measures are summarized and are reported to the court's leadership, city management, Superior Court in Maricopa County, and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
     Staff in all divisions of the court have worked to ensure that the information collected is consistent with the NSCS's standards.
     The successful implementation of all CourTools performance measures allows the Phoenix Municipal Court to hold its staff accountable to national standards and provides opportunities for the court to showcase best practices resulting in superior performance in many measurement areas, and laying the foundation for areas needing improvement.
 
 

Employees Being Accountable
Ms. Myrtle Young
Cochise County Juvenile Court Services, Retired

 

Myrtle Young     Myrtle Young grew up in Cochise County, attended Cochise Community College and earned a BS degree in Police Science Administration from Northern Arizona University.  In 1976, she returned to Cochise County as a Deputy Juvenile Probation Officer for the Benson/Tombstone region.  Seven years later she was appointed the Director of Cochise County Juvenile Court Services, a position she held for 25 years and serving for nine different Presiding Juvenile Judges.
     When Ms. Young first started working for Cochise County, she was one of only five juvenile probation officers, there are now 32 such officers.  She also has worked to improve the juvenile detention facilities, which includes an accredited school and GED program.  She managed complex budgets, supervised hundreds of employees while continuing to have a productive relationship with judicial officers.
     Ms. Young also fostered comprehensive planning and teamwork among local agencies and understood the importance of using limited resources wisely.  Under her leadership and guidance, Juvenile Court Services developed programs to enhance services available to juveniles and families including, drug court, mentoring, tutoring, After School Reporting Program, Project Restore, and Victim Impact Panels.
     Ms. Young also served on a number of Arizona Supreme Court commissions and committees and the Governor's Juvenile Justice Commission, to which she was appointed by three different governors.  Although she retired in May 2008 after more than 32 years of service to the Juvenile Justice System, she will be missed.
     Superior Court Judge Ann Littrell said in her nomination letter about Ms. Young, "Her dedication, tenacity and unswerving devotion to the juvenile system and to the children and families it serves will continue to echo throughout the system for years to come."

 
 
Employees Being Accountable
2008 Honorable Mention Award Winner
Probation Education Unit - Education Services Division
Administrative Office of the Courts
 


     The Probation Education Unit of the Administrative Office of the Courts is responsible for providing training to probation, surveillance and detention officers statewide.  They have a varied and demanding schedule that requires an extraordinary amount of teamwork and customer service demands.
     In 2007, the unit obtained their fifth American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Accreditation for the Probation Certification Academy, and it was recognized as a national training standard in the field of probation
     Some of the training programs offered are two weeks in length and require new officers to pass an exam. The training team works hard to assist the officers in learning the material and assist them in applying what they have learned to real-life situations.  During the last year, the unit trained 895 officers, conducted 40 education programs that provided 1,603 hours of training.
     The members of the unit are Krista Chapman, Kensley Gonzales, Marie Holck, Chad Kewish, Barbara Ortolano, Rosemary Pena and Sixto Valdivia.
Quotes from participants' surveys:
          "Although an intense training session, it was impactful, informative and completely necessary."  
          "I feel so very fortunate to be a PO as I now realize that I have obtained considerable knowledge in multiple areas.  The presenters were personable and informative and really seemed to enjoy teaching at the AOC."

 
 

Improving the Communications & Cooperation with the
Community and Other Branches of Government
Community Connect Project - Tempe Municipal Court

 

Community Connect Project
     Tempe Municipal Court's Community Connect Project is a set of initiatives designed to bridge communications and understanding of the judicial system within the community.  The project includes educational programs, and resources to court customers.  The educational component extends to all stakeholders served by the court - students, the Tempe Mayor and City Council, other criminal justice system departments, and Tempe residents.
     The Court sponsors many educational programs including the annual Law Day Art Contest and Kids in the Court, as well as speaking to students at all ages when requested.  Resource materials are also provided to assist court customers understand their options as their case moves through the judicial process, and to those who are victims of domestic violence.
     The Tempe Municipal Court also participates in two different specialized courts - Mental Health Court and Regional Homeless Court in cooperation with the Phoenix Municipal Court.  These specialized courts connect to those who are seriously mentally ill and/or homeless.
     The court also publishes an annual "State of the Court" report to keep the other branches of government and the community informed of court operations, performance and budge issues, and accomplishments.  The Community Connect Project is a changing, multi-faceted program that looks to address the needs of court customers and the Tempe Community
.

 
 

Improving the Communications & Cooperation with the
Community and Other Branches of Government
2008 Honorable Mention Award Winners
Superior Court Mental Health Task Force - Superior Court in Pinal County &
Criminal Justice Students Association - Navajo County's Winslow High School

 

Superior Court Mental Health Task Force
     The Mental Health Task Force was created to address the unique needs of the mentally ill in Pinal County's criminal justice system by ensuring they are treated with dignity and provided with the opportunity for treatment as well as protecting public safety.
     This collaborative effort includes representatives from the superior court, the County Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, the Pinal County Jail, the Pinal County Health and Human Services and other criminal justice and health organizations.
     The task force's goals include:
          -  Creating effective interaction between the justice and mental health systems.
          -  Ensuring effective legal advocacy for the mentally ill defendant.
          -  Determining the most effective and least restrictive treatment options available.
          -  Monitoring the delivery and receipt of mental health services and treatments.
          -  Soliciting participation from consumers and family members in court decisions as much as possible.
        -  Diverting appropriate mentally ill defendants with criminal charges to community based mental health programs, while ensuring public safety. 
     The task force achieved many things.  All inmates are now screened for mental health issues at the booking stage.  The workgroup also helped create and secure funding for a "Mental Health/Court Liaison" position within the county's Health and Human Services Department to improve the coordination of services for offenders.
     An Out Patient and In Custody Restoration to Competency (RTC) Program was established to serve people who were already out of custody, but where it wasn't appropriate to send them to the Arizona State Hospital.  The task force has also developed other policies and procedures to ensure this special needs population receives the appropriate sentences and treatment.

Criminal Justice Students Association
     The Criminal Justice Students Association from Winslow High School are sophomore, junior and senior year students who aspire to become part of law enforcement or legal communities in Arizona.  Each class was given the opportunity to do a community service project, or put on a mock trial.
     Two classes put on two different mock trials that were judged by Mr. Gregory Green, Esq. and the Honorable Allison Kolomitz, of the Winslow Justice Court.  Another class designed and distributed four different types of bookmarks to first through sixth grade students at Washington School with Civic-minded messages.  The object of the project was to give younger students continued encouragement to read more in order to succeed.
     Two other classes handmade placards with inspirational messages of support for women and children of a local domestic violence shelter.  Another class designed and built containers for a clothing drive in Winslow.  All of the work was self-organized and completed with minimal involvement from their teacher Mr. Gus Percuoco.
     In his nomination letter Mr. Percuoco wrote, "I feel that while good grades are admirable, recognition is even more important for the self-esteem and for character building in youth."
   

 
 

Serving the Community by Improving the Legal Community
Appeal Guides for Self-Represented Parties 

 

Appeal Guides for Self-Represented PartiesScott H. Gan, Esq. of Mesch, Clark & Rothschild; Beth Barnes, Esq. of the Phoenix Attorney's Office; and Phyllis Roestenberg, Esq. of the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

      The Supreme Court's project on "Appeal Guides for Self-Represented Parties" is a series of five separate guides created to assist self-represented parties in appeals.  These guides and their accompanying forms address:
          -  Civil appeals from superior court;
          -  Appeals in workers' compensation cases;
          -  Civil non-traffic appeals from limited jurisdiction courts;
          -  Traffic appeals from limited jurisdiction courts; and
          -  Criminal appeals from limited jurisdiction courts.
     The "Civil Appeals from Superior Court" guide has been distributed and is available on court websites, including www.supreme.state.az.us/appellateguide.htm; the remaining guides will be finalized and distributed within the next month.
     This project is the result of nearly two years of work from Mr. Scott Gan, Esq., Mrs. Beth Barnes, Esq., and Ms. Phyllis Roestenberg, Esq., and many other volunteers representing attorneys, judges, clerks, and court staff from across Arizona.  Mr. Gan was the lead author of the civil appeals and worker's compensation guide; Ms. Barnes was the primary author of the guides for criminal and civil traffic appeals from limited jurisdiction courts; and Ms. Roestenberg wrote the civil non-traffic guide.  Their effort promotes the administration of justice, and represents a remarkable pro bono contribution that will benefit litigants and courts for years to come.

 

 

Serving the Public by Improving the Legal Profession
Honorable Mention Award Winner
Probate Rules Committee

 

     Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor established the Probate Rules Committee in October 2006 to review current statewide and local rules of probate practice, and propose a comprehensive set of statewide rules.  This massive court rule drafting and revising project was designed to assist practitioners, judges, and the public in handling probate matters, which include a broad range of subjects ranging from decedents' estates to guardianship and conservatorship of juveniles and adults who are alleged to be incapacitated.
     Committee members volunteered more than 2,500 hours of time to review all probate laws in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) and local rules, and then draft and edit the standardized rules, whole taking special care to make the rules clear and easy to understand for self-represented parties.  The committee is currently drafting a standardized set of probate forms.
     The committee presented a set of standardized Probate Rules to the Arizona Judicial Council in October 2007 and filed a petition to adopt the rules soon thereafter.  Public comment on the proposed rules was encouraged, and the Arizona Supreme Court will consider the petition to adopt the rules later this year.

 

 

Arizona Supreme Court Outstanding Pro Bono
Dean C. Christoffel, Esq.

 

Dean C. Christoffel, Esq.     Mr. Dean Christoffel has practiced law for more than 30 years, currently at the firm of West, Christoffel, and Zickerman, P.L.L.C., and received his law degree from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, and continues to be active with that institute.
     Mr. Christoffel is a volunteer lawyer with the Southern Arizona Legal Aid Society.  In addition to representing pro bono clients, he runs review workshops for pro per domestic relations litigants, and follow-up training seminars for law students to assist these self-represented litigants handle domestic relations matters.  In 2007, he was named "Volunteer of the year" by the Southern Arizona Legal Aid Society.
     Mr. Christoffel also devotes numerous hours to various sections and committees of the State Bar of Arizona and the Pima County Bar Association, some which include:
          -  Executive Council of the Family Law Section of the State Bar;
          -  Chairman of the Family Law Section of the Pima County Bar Association;
          -  Domestic Relations Forms Review Committee Drafting Committee; and
          -  Steering Committee of the Southern Arizona Collaborative Law Group.
     In his spare time, he loves to scuba dive and is a certified cave driver by the National Association of Dave Diving and the National Speleological Society.  He is also a founding member of the Monday Morning History Club, as well as a member of the Southern Writers Book Club.